Coal isn’t free


From ThinkProgress’ Wonk Room, WV Senator Joe Manchin Claims Coal ‘Doesn’t Get A Penny Of Subsidies’. Manchin doesn’t let facts get in the way:

Puzzling out the subsidies to the coal business is as unnerving as edging through a dark mineshaft swarming with Velcro-winged bats. This is because a big chunk of the subsidies are not direct handouts, but packaged as tax credits, tax breaks, and other goodies too numerous to itemize here. The U.S. coal industry enjoyed subsidies of around $17 billion between 2002 and 2008, including tax credits for production of “nonconventional” fuels ($14.1 billion), tax breaks on coal royalties ($986 million), exploration, and development breaks ($342 million), according to a study by the Environmental Law Institute.

On top of this federal largesse, state and local governments coddle coal with hundreds of millions per year. The Kentucky state government’s net subsidy to coal is $115 million. Virginia grants tax credits of about $26 million to power plants just to burn Virginia coal, and doles out credits ranging from 40 cents to $2 per ton for another 20 million tons not burned by power plants. Bioregionalism at its finest.